Did you know that there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites in the United States each year? This shouldn’t be that surprising when you consider 36.5% of households have at least one dog. Dogs are great companions and have been proven to have many benefits to the mental, emotional, and physical health of their humans (See www.ThePetEffect.org ). But, they are still dogs and have their own innate instincts and behaviors.
How do we keep from getting bitten? Most dog bites are the fault of the humans. We either ignore the signals they give us, put ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, or we do not train them properly. Here are 10 situations when you should avoid approaching or petting a dog. (Taken from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website at https://www.avma.org/public/Pages/Top-ten-scenarios-to-avoid.aspx )
Do Not Approach or Pet a Dog If:
- It is not with its owner
- It is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog
- If the dog is on the other side of a fence. Don’t reach through or over a fence to pet the dog.
- If a dog is sleeping or eating.
- If a dog is sick or injured. (They might think of you as the source of the pain).
- If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence.
- If a dog is playing with a toy.
- If the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted while they are doing their job.
- If the dog is growling or barking.
- If the dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone in its special place.
How to I prevent my dog from biting?
Dog bites can usually be prevented from the beginning. The first step is to choose your dog wisely. Some breeds are more prone to aggression and require more exercise and training to manage their behavior. Choose a dog that fits your lifestyle, living arrangements and family life. Second, make sure your dog is properly secured in its yard or kennel and always keep your dog on a leash when in public. Dogs tend to get themselves in trouble when they get out or get loose. Next, make sure your dog is well trained and socialized to accept many different situations and environments. Socialization has been shown to significantly decrease fear related aggression. Also, children are more likely to get bitten so educate your children on what to do around animals and never leave children unsupervised with any dog. Finally, if dogs are fighting do not reach down and try to grab one to pull them apart. They will think you are the attacker and will bite you in defense.
The above tips can help avoid dog bites, but always keep in mind that they are still dogs and sometimes instinct takes over. By properly training our dogs and carefully controlling our own actions we can significantly decrease that risk. Remember any dog can bite.
For more information and tips go to: